Faculty Focus


College Students Are Studying Less

During my first year in college I remember two stats that were thrown down with such authority that I didn’t doubt them for a second. The first one was delivered during the welcoming address to the incoming freshmen class in which the speaker did the old “look to your left, look to your right, one of you won’t be here by the end of the year.”

The other statistical declaration was repeated by many of my professors at the start of each course in which they’d remind us that “For every hour you spend in class, you should spend two hours working on assignments outside of class.”

For the typical class load of 12 to 15 credit hours, that was 24-30 hours of studying per week.

Of course I haven’t thought of this stat in years until I saw an article in The Boston Globe about new research conducted by two economics professors who found that the number of hours the average college student studies each week has been dropping steadily for the past several decades.

Through their research Philip Babcock, of the University of California Santa Barbara, and Mindy Marks, of the University of California Riverside, discovered that in 1961 the average student at a four-year college studied about 24 hours a week. Today the average student hits the books for about 14 hours each week.

The Globe article outlines some of the possible reasons for the decline, including the fact that technology makes students more efficient, the speculation that student evaluations have made some faculty hesitant to be too demanding, and finally to something the students admit themselves: poor study habits.

What do you think? Are students spending less time studying than they have in the past? If so, what do you think is causing the decline? Please enter your comments below.

The full article, What happened to studying? is available here »